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Current State of Haptic Research 51

prostoalex writes "An article on InformIT.com looks at the current state of haptic technologies: "In the consumer realm, two companies dominate the field in the creation of tactile I/O devices: Immersion Corporation and SensAble Technologies. Right now, each seems interested in consolidating a position in the marketplace.""
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Current State of Haptic Research

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  • by PrinceAshitaka ( 562972 ) * on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:51AM (#11573287) Homepage
    haptic (hptk) adj. Of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:57AM (#11573367)
    I'm more interested in what this means for advancements in the Sinulator [sinulator.com]. Now that's what I want when I say, "Reach out and touch someone."
  • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:58AM (#11573375)

    Mechanical fondleability someday.
    • Having your box owned will be much more serious.

      Ha, now the f**kers will remember to keep their boxes updated.
    • I'm going to hook up one hundred mechanical hands and set myself to world fondleable! Then sell access to the streaming video of the results.

      Just imagine in the future on Microsoft systems, e-mail viruses and spam will be able to reach out and grope you.
  • Immersion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by UWC ( 664779 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:02PM (#11573439)
    Is Immersion the company that sued Sony and Microsoft over certain portions and uses of their force feedback functionalities?
  • I'm still waiting for them to invent the 'Orgasmatron.' I'll know haptic research is ready for prime time when someone rolls those out.
  • Does this mean that cyber sex will have a new motto? "Reach out and touch someone"
  • by robocrop ( 830352 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:06PM (#11573475)
    "Okay, gentlemen. We've been hired to plan a media blitz for a new company."
    "What do they do?"
    "Well, they research and market haptic peripherals."
    "Huh?"
    "Basically the stuff that reads your fingerprints. They want something fresh, exciting - something to pull the youth market."
    "Okay ... how about an MTV-style commercial with kids dancing to 'Can't Touch This'?"
    [SILENCE]
    "Maybe what they really need is a catchy slogan."
    "How about 'InGen Haptic Peripherals: OUR devices can recognize a severed finger. Can THEIRS?'".
    "This is going to be a long day."
    • Moto has implemented what they call haptics in their E398 phone for that extra youth-culture oomph. Hold it while it rings/plays and you'll feel that the oomph is quite literal.
    • The first thing that got my attention was the LACK of any market products.

      I can't help but wonder if the investors are of two camps now. One camp thinks, "If we can hold on a little longer, we'll own the market." The other camp is most definitly thinking, "How can I cash out of this dead end."
  • Let's try again... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bjpirt ( 251795 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:10PM (#11573522)
    An article on InformIT.com looks at the current state of haptic technologies [informit.com]: "In the consumer realm, two companies dominate the field in the creation of tactile I/O devices: Immersion Corporation [immersion.com] and SensAble Technologies [sensable.com]. Right now, each seems interested in consolidating a position in the marketplace.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    From TFA: "No wonder his book suggests that we could become so used to these electronic shadows that if we were to lose them suddenly, it would be like having a stroke."

    Having a stroke means that you lose functionality; you can't communicate or you lose mobility or you can't do things that you used to do. That sounds exactly like what happens when the power goes out. Take away my computer and I go from a fully functioning member of society to an unemployed bum in a millisecond.

    As for the actual content
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:59PM (#11574128)
    The device [siggraph.org] is a little hard to see in the picture: A person lies prone on a table, front or back down. Then a computer guided "thingee" hanging from a ceiling wire slides back and forth various parts of your skin. I think it can change the amount of pressure. The version at the show appeared to be entirely computer-run. People using it reported either being soothed or tickled.

    I presume this could be converted into a teledildonic device by adding human control to the machine. Someone could say something erotic and touch various places on the body.
    • What makes the Tickle Salon special is that the tickling brush acts as a sensor as well: it can learn your body contours and use those to apply various strokes in whatever manner you find pleasurable. In other words, the software driving the Tickle Salon actually knows what it's tickling.

      Notably, the Tickle Salon was conceived as an art project, and builds on a long line of other work [xs4all.nl] by the artistic duo notnot. Most of it touches on themes of growth and emergence. It's really exciting to see the Tickle Sa
  • by phyruxus ( 72649 ) <jumpandlink.yahoo@com> on Friday February 04, 2005 @01:13PM (#11574287) Homepage Journal
    "I'm not sure if he's tuned in the future perfectly here, but it does suggest that periodically we should all shut off the power and use our original equipment to perceive the outside world."

    NEVER!!!

  • A good use (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, there's some very interesting stuff going on, which you wouldn't guess from this rather breathless article. Bill Baxter has created a paint application that you can steer using Sensable's Phantom -- which works like a brush, feels like a brush that's being dragged through paint, and the application mimics paint in a natural way. Really exiting stuff.
  • Logitech iFeel mouse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ManxStef ( 469602 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:17PM (#11575005) Homepage
    Did anyone else get one of these? I actually thought it wasn't bad - it's an optical mouse that used Immersion's force-feedback tech:
    http://www.sharkygames.com/hardware/reviews/contro ller/ifeel/ [sharkygames.com]
    http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/ifeelmm/defaul t.asp [firingsquad.com]

    You'd think that f-f in a mouse would throw off the cursor but that wasn't really the case; it had five or six modes from gentle to pretty strong, and was supported by a few games (as well as pretty pointless desktop & MS Office integration).

    I got it when Black & White came out 'cause I was intrigued by B&W's game control interface (a single "hand" cursor that changed depending on the environment, and even used gestures to cast spells). Esp. liked the way they customised a few missions for this mouse -- one in particular was great: you found an old hippy/head-type guy standing by a cauldron scratching his head. He was looking for some mushrooms but wasn't sure which one would give him the best trip, so you had to go picking for him & when the cursor hovered over each one the force-feedback would buzz depending on how strong the 'shroom was :)

    Shame they never took off, really, I'd have thought -- esp. given the prevalence of the mouse as a PC game controller -- that there may have been a half-decent market for them, but, hey, I guess not? Suppose it's one of those things that most people are pretty indifferent to, and without the support of major developers it wasn't going to go too far. Ah well!
    • The iFeel mouse was the best gaming mouse ever, IMHO. UT had a patch for it, and it was/is (as I still use mine to play UT) the best addition to FPS gaming I could think of. Really added to the experience. Very distinctive feedback for each weapon, and also for hits that the player takes, which helps a lot more than you think. I hardly notice when my health goes down, but I always knew to jump away when the mouse started to give warning. Rather amazing range of tactile feedback too.

      The biggest problem

  • Can we all agree that "Force Feedback" is a way better name?

    I'm pretty sure "Haptic Joysticks" are never going to sound cool.

  • Awesome article. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by old_skul ( 566766 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:27PM (#11575117) Journal
    I used to run a web page devoted to FF and haptics called Force One, back in the day. I've been out to visit with both SensAble and Immersion; they both make very advanced and very different products.

    The article mentioned goes into better detail, but in short, Immersion is in the retail and medical space, while SensAble is in the industrial and design spaces.

    It's interesting to see what's happened in the consumer space in the past few years; there was a strong push in the very beginning from companies like Logitech and Microsoft (amongst others) to put FF on the map in gaming. As it's turned out, there's no longer a big focus on it; graphics have remained the dominant force (sorry, bad pun!) in gaming. Even sound is falling off the map; FF is far down the list of developer's priorities.

    This has always bothered me; while graphics have had a huge focus, and therefore have progressed at a breakneck pace, haptics and other sensory channels have been largely ignored. At one point there was a researcher working with technology that would stimulate your vestibular nerves externally with an electric field. This nerve controls your sense of balance and motion; he'd put together an API that would interface with 3D graphics. So you'd wear this device that had metal contacts that go behind your ears, and you'd "feel" the motion in a first-person game. (He claimed no one ever got motion sick in testing. I call BS.)

    I hope they continue moving forward with some of this stuff.
    • I've got a force-feedback joystick [saitekusa.com] which is nice for a couple of games in Windows. It works fine as a regular joystick in Linux, but when I looked around for tools to write force-feedback programs, I really only found some stuff for DirectX.

      Is there anything open out there? Does someone have to reverse-engineer the protocol to get it to work?

    • I remember this... (Score:3, Informative)

      by cr0sh ( 43134 )
      At one point there was a researcher working with technology that would stimulate your vestibular nerves externally with an electric field.

      I remember this - IIRC, it was an actual company with a developed product who was doing a combo beta/dev program, where you could buy the API and a device for around $200.00 or so to develop on it. Also, it was based around the same stimulus principles behind medical devices used to stimulate the vestibular system for vertigo research (so I call BS with you). The main id

  • Many interesting haptic applications I have come across were not mentioned in the article. SensAble's Phantom devices are being used for simulations like painting [unc.edu], sticking needles in people [bbc.co.uk], and feeling up a cow's rear [gla.ac.uk]. Some games have also been developed for or integrated with the Phantom, such as Haptic Battle Pong [brown.edu] (previously discussed on Slashdot [slashdot.org]), Haptic BlockTower [realism.com], Haptic Dueling Game [realism.com], and Haptic Quake (my own creation).

    I expect we can also look forward to seeing many great new haptic application

  • Research (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I worked last summer at the lab where one of SensAble's SIGGRAPH demos of a musical haptics program was developed. An executive at the company is actually my father's patient now.

    Watching the evolution of the haptics program was really neat; it was very intuitive and pretty in the last stage, but I still did not see how one could compose music with it easily (the program featured 3D surfaces which after being manipulated could produce music if you stroked them with the onscreen cursor).

    Haptics is really n

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